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Breast Cancer Patients Live Longer If They Turn Down This Treatment in Favor of Something Less Invasive

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Breast cancer treatments

When you have early-stage breast cancer, you usually have one of two options on how to treat it (with your oncologist's say-so that is): You can have a mastectomy, which surgically removes the whole breast, or a lumpectomy, which just removes the tumor, followed by radiation. (That's why lumpectomies are also called breast-conserving therapy.)

Previous studies showed no difference in survival rates between the two options. Plus, many women feel that removing one or both breasts is safer. For those reasons, many patients choose to have a mastectomy, followed by reconstruction. And because radiation after this major surgery isn't recommended for early-stage cancer patients, many who go the mastectomy route skip it.

Check out these cancer facts.

Now, two new studies may change women's minds. In one, researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center found that mastectomies followed by reconstructive surgery had twice the complications than lumpectomies, and the complications ended up costing women roughly $9,000 more.

A second study found that women who'd chosen lumpectomies with radiation were 21 percent more likely to be alive 10 years later than women who'd had mastectomies without it. That study was done in the Netherlands, looking at data from thousands of women; after examining the data, researchers felt the radiation treatment may have played an important role.

Of course, if you are diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, the best treatment is the one based on your family history, health, cancer stage, and doctor's recommendation. But it's worth knowing that you don't have to go the more costlier and invasive route to become cancer-free.

via EurekAlert! and Time.com